FLORIDA - Residents living near the Hoosac Wind Project held a press conference Tuesday, where they discussed formal complaints they have filed with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), alleging the turbines create noise above the state's legal limit and negative health effects.
At the Tuesday afternoon gathering, members of The Friends of Florida and Monroe called for a sound study to determine whether noise from the turbines is above the state's legal limit of 10 decibels above ambient sound.
The group formed in response to residents' concerns over Iberdrola Renewables' Hoosac Wind Project, which consists of 19 wind turbines, each 340 feet tall, on Bakke Mountain in Florida and Crum Hill in Monroe.
Florida resident Michael Fairneny said he and his family's quality of life has changed drastically since the turbines went online in late December, which led him to file a formal complaint with the state DEP.
"My quiet, peaceful, serene world and home has been turned into a reality of grief, unending noise, annoyance and constant dealing with those in charge to help us," he said.
Fairneny, who has lived in his house on Moores Road for 29 years and is about 3,000 feet away from the nearest turbines, said he and his wife have suffered from constant headaches since the end of December, which they believe are caused by low-frequency sound from the turbines. The only relief he gets from headaches, he said, comes when he leaves his house.
Paul Copleman, communications manager with Iberdrola Renewables, said the company would work closely with DEP to address any possible issue.
"For any project we build in any community we enter ... we want to be a good neighbor," Copleman said. "We take that relationship very seriously. If people have concerns and are raising questions, then we want to look into it."
When reached Tuesday afternoon, DEP spokesperson Edmund Coletta would not comment on the number of complaints that have been made, saying only that complaints are being tracked and the department has been in contact with Iberdrola.
"MassDEP requested, and the company recently submitted, a plan for performing noise monitoring," Coletta said. "We are working with the company to ensure the plan will evaluate conditions around the turbines. We expect to finalize that plan shortly and then the company will begin monitoring."
Copleman said Iberdrola is obligated by state law to stay within DEP's given sound levels. But some residents feel a sound study may not be good enough. George Berne, also of Moores Road in Florida, said he believes it was wrong to put the turbines so close to people's homes. He added that he believes animals are also affected by the turbines - since the project went online, he said, he hasn't seen wildlife they would normally see.
"Something needs to happen," Berne said. Residents living near turbines in other communities are reporting similar symptoms, according to the group. In January, Falmouth selectmen voted to have Town Meeting members decide in the spring whether to shut down two municipally owned turbines after residents complained of headaches and other symptoms. In October 2012, a lawsuit was filed asking for $200 million in damages against those involved with Iberdrola'sHardscrabble Wind Power Project in upstate New York.
Fairneny said making an official complaint to DEP is the most important thing concerned residents can do right now.
"If something isn't done now, I'm afraid it'll be swept under the rug," he said.